Three of Aberdeen’s recent signings have shown they can stake a claim for a place in the Dons’ first 11.
Or at least give Derek McInnes strong options off the bench when Europa League qualifying kicks off against Burnley this week and into the league campaign.
While summer acquisition Chris Forrester and now-recovered January signing Mikey Devlin are shoo-ins to play in central midfield and defence respectively, Dom Ball, Lewis Ferguson and Sam Cosgrove will be looking to fight their way into Derek McInnes’ side.
Cosgrove, who McInnes labelled as a player for the coming campaign when he joined from Carlisle United in the winter, bagged his first Reds goal and the 21-year-old was probably man of the match against West Bromwich Albion.
Now Adam Rooney has left Pittodrie, the Englishman faces competition just from Stevie May – a different type of striker – and any forward McInnes can take in before the transfer window closes in a few weeks.
If Cosgrove is able to play like he did in the 1-1 draw with West Brom, taking on centre-backs who’ve played in the lauded English Premier League, that’s a bonus.
He clearly has talent and potential but his confidence will have received a big boost.
I would be surprised if he becomes the Dons’ main striker – listening to the manager it sounds as if he feels Cosgrove still has a lot of developing to do to maximise his potential.
Sometimes, though – look at defender Scott McKenna last season – players grasp opportunities and the big man could force the gaffer’s hand.
It will come down to mentality. If Cosgrove realises there isn’t a first-name-on-the-teamsheet striker at Pittodrie right now, he might be able to become just that.
Another player who should be looking to compete with the likes of Forrester for the creative midfield role, based on Friday’s evidence, is Lewis Ferguson, who some fans may not have known too much about.
He showed inventiveness to shoot from halfway after spotting Jonathan Bond off his line and it almost came off.
Ferguson is also direct in possession, plays vertical passes and has good physicality about him.
Ball obviously returned to the club last week on loan for another season, which I think was a good move by Aberdeen.
At the end of last term, the 22-year-old showed, after games at full-back and centre-back, he is best suited to holding midfield – the position often filled last term by the now-gone Anthony O’Connor.
He is not just a physical barrier in front of the defence, but showed against the Baggies he can use possession cleverly.
Ball will work well in behind Graeme Shinnie, Forrester and Ferguson – I’d expect him to push for the role.